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In last week’s blog I placed the human element front and center as a requirement for successful transformations. This week I will share some thoughts on how a BPM approach (still centered around people) can facilitate and accelerate business transformations. Hint: it’s all about making sure that your employees are engaged, empowered and enabled to do their tasks. 

Allow me to start with a bit of bold statement: every business transformation includes changes to business processes. Or in other words, there can exist no business transformation program that does not impact business processes. If your project/program plan for your next big business transformation does not include links to or work on business processes, I can confidently predict it is going to fail and fail big time. The reason for this is not that difficult: everything an organization does to achieve it’s strategic goals comes in the shape of a process. Think about it: if you want to reduce your time to market for product innovations, what do you do? You start looking for all the things that need to happen to get from the inception of an idea to the launch of the product. Who is doing what, when and supported by what applications. This is the classic definition of a process and knowing this, it now also makes sense to put some (or maybe even a lot of) emphasis on the way you manage, optimize and change your business processes, right? Good!

Now that we’ve established that we need also need to focus on processes, let’s take a bit of deeper dive into what it is that drives process execution? Each business process has a number of components to it:

  • An actor (mostly humans, sometimes software (bots))
  • Input and output information (data)
  • Supporting application(s) (in 99% of the cases)
  • Policies, Procedure and Work instructions

In last week’s blog we already established that the human element is by far the most unpredictable component of the four I mention above and as a result requirements also by far the most attention from a change management point of view, after all, business transformation programs are essentially all about change management: getting the organization (all components) to do things differently than before.

Now, BPM (or Business Process Management) is no longer all about process modeling (as it has been for a long period of time since it’s inception, back in the 20th century), but it has developed into a much larger management philosophy that is centered around the business process. The one aspect the field BPM still needs to figure out properly is how to go to the one level of understanding deeper and realize that, in the end, it’s all about motivating people to change the way they work. This is typically not realized by just showing them a new business process, it takes more than that. I’ll even dare to go further, transformation programs have to deal with the grieving and mourning of its employees about the fact that the way they used to work is no longer there. It may sound a bit over the top, but for a human being to change things also means saying goodbye to what they had, what they used to do and basically, in a mini-format, they go through the mourning-curve (google for Kubler-Ross curve) every time the organization forces yet another new way of working upon them. 

So, where and how can BPM mitigate some of this? Well, for starters by providing a stable foundation for the employees so they don’t have to seek for information on the new way of working, or on the new strategic directions of the organization (or more importantly, on the logic and reasoning behind the strategic change, so each employee can make up their mind if they agree with that and subsequently want to get in line with the program). In times of uncertainty, it’s good to have a stable home, in this case a stable home for all of the relevant information on business processes. 

Next, BPM can be used to help employees understand much better what the changes to their old way of working are going to be. The most comprehensive BPM platforms out there have things like role-based filtering, what’s new, step by step views and much more to facilitate all the different ways that humans look for and consume information. 

A third way BPM can help is quite similar to the support BPM gives to ERP implementations (which in their own rights are typically major transformation programs), BPM platforms can help organizations to manage the enormous complexity of making a lot of changes to a lot of processes and rolling them out in a phased way (meaning that you will have to manage different parts of the organization working via different versions of processes until you’re completely ready with the transformation program, which can lasts for years depending on the scope of the transformation program). 

And these are just ways that BPM can support that only scratch the surface, you can of course fill up a book about this. Next week, I’ll take a look at some other considerations around business transformation and BPM.

Ciao,Caspar

Tags: ARIS 10 Business Process Management